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162 pages, Paperback
First published January 1, 1940
"If God were good, He would make His creatures perfectly happy, and if He were almighty He would be able to do what he wished. But the creatures are not happy. Therefore God lacks either goodness, or power, or both."
"Nonsense remains nonsense even if we talk it about God."
"Try to exclude the possibility of suffering which the order of nature and the existence of free-wills involve, and you will find that you have excluded life itself.”
"Kindness cares not whether its object becomes good or bad, provided only that it escapes suffering", while Love "would rather see [the loved ones] suffer much than be happy in contemptible and estranging modes".
"Love, in its own nature, demands the perfecting of the beloved; that the mere 'kindness' which tolerates anything except suffering in its object is, in that respect, at the opposite pole from Love."
"The world is a dance in which good, descending from God, is disturbed by evil arising from the creatures, and the resulting conflict is resolved by God's own assumption of the suffering nature which evil produces. The doctrine of the Fall asserts that the evil which thus makes the fuel or raw material of the second and more complex kind of good is not God's contribution but man's".
"Human will becomes truly creative and truly our own when it is wholly God's, and this is one of the many senses in which he that loses his soul shall find it."
"We are not merely imperfect creatures that need improvement: we are rebels that need lay down their arms".
STORYTELLER: Once upon a time, long, long ago, there lay in a valley far, far away in the mountains the most contented kingdom the world has ever known. It was called Happy Valley, and it was ruled over by a wise old king called Otto. And all his subjects flourished and were happy, and there were no discontents or grumblers, because wise King Otto had had them all put to death, along with the trade union leaders, many years before. And all the happy folk of Happy Valley sang and danced all day long, and anyone who was for any reason miserable or unhappy or who had any difficult personal problem was prosecuted under the Happiness Act.
PROSECUTOR: Caspar Schlitz, I put it to you that you were, on February 5th this year, very depressed with malice aforethought, and did moan quietly, contrary to the Cheerful Noises Act.
SCHLITZ: I did.
COUNSEL FOR THE DEFENCE: May I explain, m'lud, that the reason for my client's behaviour was that his wife had just died that morning?
[All except the accused laugh uproariously.]
JUDGE: Members of the jury, have you reached your verdict?
[All laugh again.]
JUDGE: [donning red nose and trying to stifle giggles] I hereby sentence you to be hanged by the neck until you cheer up.
[Yet more hearty laughter]
‘...mere time does nothing either to the fact or to the guilt of a sin. The guilt is washed away not by time but by repentance and the blood of Christ: if we have repented these early sins we should remember the price of our forgiveness and be humble. As for the fact of a sin, is it probable that anything cancels it? All times are eternally present to God. ... We must guard against the feeling that there is “safety in numbers”. It is natural to feel that if all men are as bad as the Christians say, then badness must be very excusable. ... There are those odd people among us who do not accept the local standard, who demonstrate the alarming truth that a quite different behavior is, in fact, possible. Worse still, there is the fact that these people, even when separated widely in space and time, have a suspicious knack of agreeing with one another in the main – almost as if they were in touch with some larger public opinion outside the pocket.’Read again soon!
"One can imagine a sentient picture, after being rubbed and scraped and re-commenced for the tenth time, wishing that it were only a thumb-nail sketch whose making was over in a minute. In the same way, it is natural for us to wish that God had designed for us a less glorious and less arduous destiny; but then we are wishing not for more love but for less.”
By the goodness of God we mean nowadays almost exclusively His lovingness; and in this we may be right. And by Love, in this context, most of us mean kindness—the desire to see others than the self happy; not happy in this way or in that, but just happy. What would really satisfy us would be a God who said of anything we happened to like doing, ‘What does it matter so long as they are contented?’ We want, in fact, not so much a Father in Heaven as a grandfather in heaven—a senile benevolence who, as they say, ‘liked to see young people enjoying themselves’, and whose plan for the universe was simply that it might be truly said at the end of each day, ‘a good time was had by all’.